"We are changing the world, one asshole at a time," Mathew Gerson, creator of the infamous cannabis-infused pleasure line Foria, tells me over the phone. He's at Pride in San Francisco, manning his popular Foria truck in the middle of the festivities. "The van has been swarmed every day," he says, "and we are so excited to finally have a product geared at men and the LGBT community."
He's talking about Foria's latest offering, Explore: an anal suppository that contains 60 milligrams of THC and 10 milligrams of cannabidiol (CBD). It's designed to induce relaxation and enhance pleasure without the psychoactive effects that usually come with cannabis. This business model has been successful for women's products, but he wanted to open the (back) door to men as well.
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"I have been in the sex product industry for a long time now, and I wanted to extend the pleasure line with something that could include men," Gerson says. "The male body does not absorb as well through the genitals just by the reality of them being external instead of internal—in terms of sexual enhancement, a topical [cream] on a male just won't do it."
Foria launched in 2014 with Pleasure, a lubricating THC spray meant to enhance sex for women. The California company spread all over international news, even drawing the attention of Los Angeles urologist Dr. Jennifer Berman, who then helped them develop a vaginal suppository, Foria Relief, to help ease menstrual and pelvic pain. (The difference between the vaginal and anal suppositories is the amount of specific cannabinoids, as well as the medium that holds them. Foria's vaginal suppositories are made of coconut oil, while Explore uses jojoba because it is latex compatible.)
"I saw [Explore] as an opportunity to present a product to a community of men whose needs have not been addressed when it comes to using cannabis for intimacy and pleasure," Gerson says. "Explore can also lead to more blood flow and stimulation around the prostate, which facilitates a male orgasm."
"I want all men to think of this as their Flintstones vitamins."
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Although Foria's main goal was always pleasure, the conversation shifted to health and wellness with its Relief product, probably because the entire line contains large amounts of THC and CBD, which can seem surprising.
When the weed suppositories are inserted anally, your body absorbs 70 percent locally and the rest goes into the bloodstream—only 10 percent of users reported slight psychoactive effects. "If you smoked that much you would want to go in the woods and be alone," laughs Gerson. "However, when inserted anally, there is a different effect—more in the body, not your head."
Explore is made from purified THC, CBD, organic sunflower lecithin, and jojoba extract. The THC increases blood flow and sensitivity, while the CBD reduces inflammation and relaxes your muscles, but the other ingredients are important, too. "I really wanted to put something on the market that was latex compatible," says Gerson. Jojoba oil is key here; it's also in popular, FDA-approved lubricants designed for anal play like Pjur Backdoor and Simply slick. "Both those products have what you call the 510(K) FDA clearance for latex compatibility. Because we are in the cannabis industry, we can't work with the FDA in the same way."
Photo by Cameron Zegers via Stocksy
Because Foria uses an ingredient that isn't legal everywhere, Gerson and the company rely on the help of open-minded physicians, researchers, scientists, and chemists who believe that cannabis can be a source of pleasure and pain relief to promote their product. Gerson himself swears by the healing capabilities of Explore. Not only do users report less discomfort during anal sex and the ability to handle deeper penetration, Gerson says, but Explore can be used to treat all kinds of pain around the anus. Gerson himself uses it three times a week to manage his sciatic pain. "Mother Nature cooked up major anti-inflammatory properties with cannabis, and we should use this in the best way we can," he says. "I am Trojan horsing cannabinoids into the ass, but this is a wellness protocol. I want all men to think of this as their Flintstones vitamins. To be able to separate the mental psychoactive components from the physical ones will open up so many doors for people getting the full benefits of this plant."
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Still, this product is not just for men, but anyone who wants to engage in anal play. "People are becoming much more open to it," Gerson says. "We have had a lot of feedback from heterosexual women who said they never enjoyed anal before because it was uncomfortable—the tension, they would not relax. When they used Explore, the relaxation in the pelvis allowed them to open up and enjoy the experience for the first time."
When my Explore samples arrived, my husband was pumped; he was going to get to fuck me in the ass in the name of journalism. I use Foria Relief for my period cramps, and once I inserted the Explore suppository, I thought I would have to follow the same protocol, but in reverse: With Relief, you lie down with your legs in the air like you've just been artificially inseminated and are trying to make the sperm swim the right way.
I was wrong. Unless you've been receiving double anal penetration on the regular since the mid-90s, your asshole is pretty tight. After about 20 minutes, I felt some warm relief in my pelvic region, but not a startling amount. It was subtle. Even when lying in bed, my lower body felt stoned, relaxed, and warm.
But during sex, I was so focused on fucking for a testimonial that the whole event became a joke. (You know what prevents a penis from penetrating your asshole? Laughing as it's going in.) That was my fault, not Foria's. As someone who has enjoyed anal sex many times (usually with the help of alcohol), I am determined to try again. In Gerson's words, we are a "tight-ass culture"; I want to fully support his mission of helping people feel more comfortable sticking things up there.